Industry professionals consider the Diana Jones Award to be the unofficial kickoff of Gen Con.
Held the night before the game convention opens, the award was presented to Eric M. Lang, the designer of many, many board games including Chaos in the Old World (nominated for the 2010 Diana Jones Award); several living card games for Fantasy Flight Games; and XCOM, the first boardgame that integrated an app for smartphones, tablets, and computers to play against the people at the table (and one of this writer’s favorite boardgames).
The other nominees for this year’s award were:
ConTessa, a gaming organization whose goal is to increase the number of women playing, running, and creating roleplaying games. The organization runs gaming events online and in person, including seminar for women in gaming. Gen Con 2015 saw the first track of ConTessa events run within the convention, “innovatingly creating a con inside a con”.
Fall of Magic, a storytelling game created by Ross Cowman, is printed on a five-foot-long cloth scroll that is unrolled and revealed during play. This artifact as game has a tactile component that brings the players together as they travel in a fantasy world to the birthplace of magic to discover why it is dying.
Larpwriter Summer School, a week-long course about LARP design. The course, began in 2012, is “packed with lectures on design and theory, design exercises, educational games, and playing larps.” The Larpwriter Summer School is part of a larger cooperation project between organizations based in Norway and Belarus.
Pandemic Legacy, a boardgame by Rob Daviau and Matt Leacock, is the game Pandemic, but where actions in previous games have effects in future plays of the game. The Diana Jones committee says “a Pandemic Legacy campaign is an experience unlike anything else in gaming, and the waves it has created are felt across this and many other areas of interactive entertainment.”
The award, named for the still-readable part of the burnt Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game logo encased in the lucite pyramid, was originally awarded to Peter Adkinson in 2001. The Diana Jones Award trophy is returned each year to the DJA Committee for the next award ceremony. This is the sixteenth year for the award ceremony.
The trophy itself is a lucite pyramid mounted on a wooden base, created to “commemorate the expiration of [TSR UK’s] licence to publish the Indiana Jones Role-Playing Game and the subsequent destruction of all unsold copies of the game.” Within the pyramid are burnt pieces of the last copy of TSR UK’s Indiana Jones RPG logo and game elements, including the infamous Nazi™ cardboard tokens. The DJA site claims the award was liberated from the TSR Hobbies office by “forces unnamed” before winding up in the hands of the Diana Jones Award Committee.